Review: Maus: A Survivors Tale by Art Spiegelman

Title: Maus: A Survivors Tale

Author/Creator: Art Spiegelman

My rating: 4.75

Goodreads rating: 4.34

Genre: Historical (Memoir)

Cover: 4/5

This is a strong, eye catching cover which kept me glancing back at it while I was at the library looking for some graphic novels.


This is a brilliant graphic novel. Even though I finished this about a week and a half ago (I know this review was overdue), I still remember the emotions that this memoir evoked in me. Disgust, anger, confusion. All very bold emotions and I can honestly say is what the memoir wants us to feel. It is a completely naked account of the war which is gripping and full of detail throughout. I love how the characters are mice or other animals, so you can kind of pursue the story even through all of the horrific stuff which gets told in the novel.

It’s a little hard to seperate this review into different separate parts so I will just group all of my thoughts and feelings together instead.

“To die, it’s easy. But you have to struggle for life.”

Firstly I am going to talk about what actually happens in this graphic novel. The memoir follows Art trying to note down the horrid memories of the holocaust through, Vladek, his father ; a cranky, depressed old man who seems to still be wrecked with the nightmares of the second world war. How Art described the relationship between himself and his father was exquisite. you can really sense the tension between them and it is weaved in through all of the beautifully drawn pictures. Seriously, the pictures awesome.

Both Art and his father are complicated in a humanly sort of way. They both have inner conflicts which most likely come from the suicide of Art’s mother and Vladek’s first wife which happened only a couple of years before the the graphical novel takes place. This leads to many interesting family dynamics which really lead you to carry on through the whole novel.

The majority of the memoir is told through the memories of Vladek from where he meets his first love to where he ends up in a concentration camp and so on. Some parts where seriously hard to read through especially when the images are so harshly drawn (does that make sense? I’m no artist) and vivid that it really just takes your breath away. I did get through it though because Vladek’s journey is just too good not to read. It’s full of many of many ups, but many more downs and so much luck! Sometimes you forget you are reading about a real person’s life.

“Disaster is my muse.”

When reading something in a Jew’s perspecitive in World War II, it is almost certain that you will find out some really horrific realisations about what went down. When I was younger I was so interested in world war two. Call it something of a fascination on how people can be so horrid to each other. But now, if just find the whole topic rather depressing and even the quote at the start of the book ‘The Jews are undoubtedly a race, but they are not human’ by Adolf Hitler just sends a shiver down my spine. The book has a load of depressive tones to it and a load of sad moments which makes me want to rip the heart out of Hitler Regina style (OUAT reference, sorry).

The only downfall of this brilliant, beautiful graphic novel? The lack of a ending, but I guess I should just pick up the second part because I really need to know how this memoir completes.

What I liked:

  • The artwork is stunning.
  • The writing is stunning.
  • The story which is told is stunning.

What I disliked:

  • Where did that ending go?

Verdict: This graphic novel has everything I love in a story. Interesting characters, drama, a twisting and turning plot. But this isn’t a story. This is- well was real life for many Jews during World War II and this is a graphic novel everyone should be racing to read, think about and enjoy.

I’ll write soon.